Friday, 6 October 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 6 October 2017

During this week’s Sixth Form and Lower School assemblies, we reflected on the senseless tragedy in Las Vegas last weekend and prayed for the victims and their loved ones. We said that immediate action must be taken by leaders to address the archaic gun laws in the US before more innocent people lose their lives. It is of course a topic that generates much debate and I am pleased to see our students embrace the opportunity to do so.

On Tuesday this week we had our 6th Form Open Evening for prospective students and their parents and were happy that once again, there was standing room only in the Main Hall. Our 6th Form helpers were a real credit to their parents and to the school and our speakers articulated their thoughts on their experiences with great passion - not an easy task addressing over 200 people in the Hall, but they did it. We have an outstanding 6th Form (the results at A-level speak for themselves – 41% A*-A as compared to the national results of 26%) and a dedicated team who go above and beyond the call of duty. If any of our Y11 parents didn’t get a chance to come in on the evening or would like to visit again, then please do get in touch with Mrs Stallion who will be only too happy to organise a personal visit for you. Speaking of the 6th form, a reminder that our Lower 6th (Year 12) ‘Meet the Tutor’ event takes place on Monday, 9th October at 4pm in the Sixth Form Centre.

Despite the colder weather, our Hockey and Rugby matches continued apace this week, with fixtures against Nailsea School, Beechen Cliff, Wells Cathedral School, Bruton School for Girls, and Milton Abbey. Planning sessions for the upcoming trip to Nepal have also been held this week and we are all getting very excited as the trip takes shape. More details to come soon.

I look forward to seeing you at the many school events organised over the coming months at Sexey’s (especially those Year 11 parents who will be here for Parents’ Evening tonight) and, of course, it’s Speech Day in a couple of weeks’ time which also signals the end of this half term. Where has the time gone?

Friday, 22 September 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 22 September 2017

The senseless terrorist attack last Friday at Parsons Green station in London formed the narrative of this week's 6th Form assembly. We asked the important question of whether we continue to be safe in our major towns and cities. The terrorist threat is still high on the agenda and it was an opportunity to reflect and remember those who had lost loved ones in attacks around the world since 7/7 and what we must do to stop this violence - education is the key and I hope our values will help reinforce this and empower the next generation of leaders and decision makers:
Those values were clearly demonstrated at the Lower School Open Evening this week which saw record numbers of prospective parents from far and wide come through the Sexey’s School gates. Parents commented on the maturity, enthusiasm and exemplary manners of our students and I hope we left them with a good impression. Thank you for promoting the event amongst your friends and our next Open Evening, which will be for our Sixth Form, takes place on Tuesday the 3rd of October. Do please keep banging that drum!
Plenty of activities this week, including rugby and Hockey fixtures against the likes of Clayesmore & Wells Cathedral, Sherborne Girls, The Park School & Bucklers Mead; Y13 EPQ trip to Southampton University and the Duke of Edinburgh Silver expedition to the Quantocks - I wish our intrepid explorers the very best and hope that the weather is kind to them - it has been good so far.
We also had the PSA AGM and Meeting yesterday in Walwin and it was our Chair's last one. Mrs Kit Pottow has dedicated her time, energy (and life it seems!) in making the Sexey's PSA what it is today and during her time, it has raised in excess of £35,000. The money raised through various events and activities is given to the school to improve and further enhance the education of our students. And this money has had a positive impact on the outcomes for our students. The work that Mrs Pottow and her committee have done over the past 8 years has been of tremendous value and we will miss her dynamism and passion for all things Sexey's as she retires for pastures new. My heartfelt thanks to Mrs Pottow and I wish the new committee every possible success. We are looking for volunteers (I know there are many new parents out there eager to support the outstanding work of the PSA). Do please get involved - it means so much to us, the school and ultimately our children. It is after all why we are all here.  

I wish you all a pleasant and restful exeat (good luck to the Equestrian team this weekend at Stonar) and I hope that the weather continues to be kind to us all… 

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 15 September 2017

School is in full swing this week, with the Year 7s navigating the school site like old hands, Girls’ hockey and rugby practices, the Sixth Form pantomime rehearsals set to begin, preparation for the silver DoE, the China Trip, Cross Country Club, Geology Club, Army Cadet Force, Cooking Club, British Sign Language Club, Fencing Club…. Our boarders took time at the weekend to unwind at Splashdown in Poole (pun not intended) and to take part in the Glow in the Park Run at Longleat - a success by all accounts. I do wonder has it really only been 10 days since the start of term? 

During Friday’s Key Stage 3 assembly, Mr Darryl Carpenter, the Head of Key Stage 3, explored with the pupils what is good about the school. We had a number of responses from the quality of teaching to the range of activities on offer – sport, music, art and drama to the food. One student talked about the students and staff here, and that struck me. It is people that make a place special and how we treat each other speaks volumes about us as individuals, as a school, as a community and more importantly, as a family. It is only our second week back and I can see our values of tolerance, respect and kindness in abundance here at Sexey's. As we prepare to welcome students and parents at our Lower School Open Evening next Tuesday (please spread the word!) I reflect on how proud I am of the way in which our students have begun this new term, with enthusiasm and endeavour. Long may it last!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 7 July 2017

With only a week to go until the end of term, there is no signs of activity slowing down in School. This week we held our Year 6 Induction Day, welcoming all of our new joiners, and this weekend sees our new Y7 boarders entering the houses for their sleepover taster weekend.

Tonight is the final production of the whole school musical ‘Bugsy Malone’, which had its premiere on Wednesday and has had sell-out audiences. Congratulations to everyone involved from the actors, to behind the scenes, to the technical department, to front of house. All of the funds raised from the tickets and refreshments sales will go towards the next school production and the Drama department, so we are immensely grateful for your support. Tickets for tonight’s show (7.30pm) are available on the door if you haven’t got yours already – I hope to see you there!

This week a huge congratulations goes to our Year 8 girls who – following a gruelling session at Millfield – have been crowned county champions in Rounders for the second year in a row. We are very proud of them – especially as many of them are also county netball champions! Well done ladies. Cricket fixtures and athletics meets have also been held this week against Warminster School and Millfield.

The Year 12 Geography department returns this afternoon from their field trip to the Dale Fort Field Centre in Pembrokeshire, where they have been assessing biodiversity change in intertidal zones, among other things. Photos can be seen via Twitter @SexeysGeogDept  Geography Trip.

On Tuesday this week we welcomed fifteen potential employers into school for a careers conference for our Years 8-10. Thank you to everyone who made this excellent opportunity to support our students’ future business lives a possibility – a full write up can be read here Careers Conference.

Should any of you be visiting the Yeovilton Air Day this weekend then do look out for our stand – we will be representing Sexey’s as we do each year, in support of our forces families. Spread the word!

Friday, 30 June 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 30 June 2017

Arts, Music and Drama are thriving this week at Sexey’s as set up for the whole school musical, Bugsy Malone, is currently well underway. I hope to see you there Wednesday – Friday next week (tickets available at Reception).  This week has also seen the End of School Art and Photography Showcase, when we welcomed parents, friends, and colleagues from the neighbouring schools to view the outstanding final pieces produced by our artists in Years 10-13. Well done to all of you for some superb artwork, described as “inspiring” by a visiting Head of Art. Congratulations also go to those students involved in the Trinity Guildhall Speech and Drama Showcase – what superb talent we have in school.

Our Year 7s have departed for a Science trip to @Bristol today and we look forward to hearing more about their visit on their return – please keep an eye out for updates on the school news pages (from the homepage) and twitter (@SexeysSchool).

We were happy to welcome some of our new students this week as the Sixth Form Induction and SEND Transition Day went ahead. The school was buzzing with a renewed energy – as it does every year at this time – and we look forward to welcoming our new joiners back again in September. Of course this also means that we bid a fond farewell to some of our current Year 11s, with whom we celebrated this week at their Leaver’s Prom at Hauser & Wirth Somerset. Thank you to our hosts and all of the organisers for a truly fantastic evening. Photos can be viewed (and I understand, purchased) here Prom Photographs.

Our Sports Department has once again been busy with Athletics fixtures (well done to Maddy Britton and Josh Carr for winning their 100m sprints, and to the Y10 boys who won the Area Athletics Competition), Rounders (well done to the Y8 ladies team who also won a Rounders Area final tournament), and several cricket matches this week, including an U14A match against Wells Cathedral School and U13A vs Dauntsey’s. These matches can be followed via the twitter feed

A very special congratulations must also go to Sixth Former Georgia Silcox, who has been invited to trial for Great Britain in the triple jump – our very best luck to Georgia as she prepares for that.

Once again a very big thank you to our Parent Staff Association who met last night to discuss the department bids and distributed a great deal of funds to support our school. It is all hugely appreciated.

And finally, this weekend we wish our boarders well as they head off on trips to Studland in Dorset and the New Forest in Hampshire, to those students and staff who will be rehearsing for next week’s production of Bugsy and to the Sexey’s All Star Cricket XI who will be taking on a touring side from Cambridge on Saturday afternoon.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 16 June 2017

I have been struck this week by the strength of community shown in response to the Grenfell Tower fire in West London. It is a reminder of our shared humanity – a lesson that as a school we will be taking forward into our work around National Refugee Week next week. I hope through education and our values of tolerance, respect and kindness, we all work to make our communities better places for us all.

There was certainly a strong sense of community at today’s Year 11 Leaver’s Service and barbeque. As I gave my address and looked out across the sea of faces, I realised how far these students have come, becoming engaged, helpful young citizens with an exciting future ahead of them. We look forward to welcoming many of them back to our Sixth Form next term. 

This week has seen a group of Year 10 GCSE History students on a trip to Montacute House to study hierarchy and status in Elizabethan society, as well as an extremely moving Acoustic Night (with Ben Macnaughton performing a song for his father serving in Afghanistan and Princess Ijaola singing a song that she had written for her friend who is leaving Sexey’s to return to Spain at the end of the year). There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

We must give our congratulations to Georgia Silcox for her Somerset County Schools win and new Long Jump championship record of 6.08m last weekend. Well done Georgia – your success is testament to all of your hard work and dedication. Cricket and rounders fixtures have been played this week against Millfield Prep, King Arthur’s, Dauntsey’s, Stanchester and Milton Abbey (more information at the dedicated School Sports site as always) and we wish the equestrian team well for the upcoming NSEA Dressage competition in Dorset this weekend.

I must close now and dig out my black tie for the Sixth Form Ball at Haynes Motor Museum – yet another opportunity to reflect on the strong sense of community and friendship here at Sexey’s.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 09 June 2017

Welcome back after what I hope was a restful half term – it does seem quite a long time ago!

Those of us who did not manage to stay up all night watching the electoral votes coming in, woke to a very interesting political scene this morning. Commentators have reflected that this is the General Election in which young people have taken to the ballot boxes to make their voices heard. Perhaps we will see politicians engage much more heavily with the younger demographic as a result – this can only be a positive thing for our future. As a school we take very seriously the need to equip our students with the life skills that they will need to stay informed with this ever changing world. Our mission statement resonates this - ‘Teaching boys and girls to think intelligently, act wisely and be fully engaged in a challenging and changing world’. We thank all of those politicians that have come into school in recent weeks to meet with our students and explain the political process. As I write this, the current Government, is looking to establish itself with the support of DUP, ten days before Brexit negotiations begin. The question of grammar schools, academy sponsorship and school funding, to name but a few, will become more important than ever now.

In the spirit of staying informed, I hope that you will take the time to read Mr Clackson’s safeguarding letter relating to TV programmes, websites and apps currently available to children who have access to mobile devices, sent out to parents and guardians earlier today. It is a topic that is important to us – we are continually assessing our safeguarding procedures to ensure that your child is safe at school, physically, mentally and virtually. Please don’t hesitate to contact your child’s tutor should you have any concerns.

It has been another busy start to term, not least as the exam season continues. Yesterday saw our Year 10 Drama students performing powerfully executed extracts from Hitchcock’s ‘The 39 Steps’. We also welcomed visitors from Bristol Cathedral Choir School who were conducting a friendly peer review of our teaching and learning to prepare us for future Ofsted monitoring visits. Their feedback was positive – they were clear that there has been apparent progress since January and that there are tremendous strengths and demonstrations of outstanding practice visible in the school. Thank you to everyone involved.

On Tuesday we held a minute’s silence in honour of all of those affected by the London terrorist attacks. Our thoughts and prayers remain with them and with their families and during times like this, it really does put things into perspective.

We have had a number of cricket and rounders fixtures this week, with fiercely contested matches against Millfield, Hugh Sexey’s, Westfield Academy and Huish Episcopi. And a reminder that next Tuesday sees the final Acoustic Night for the year – do please come along and support the excellent work of our musicians. The weather today has been pleasant (more reminiscent of how it should be during summer) and we wish all those going on the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh expedition across the Mendips this weekend the very best of luck - let’s hope the weather is kind to them.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 26 May 2017

From the Headmaster 
What a scorcher of a day for Sports Day! Spirits were high as we processed up to the Elm Field - our four houses were in fine form singing with gusto the School Song, building team spirit. It was lovely to see so many parents there in support (thank you again to the PSA for staving off the dehydration). My personal thanks also go to the PE department for their meticulous organisation, to the Estates team, House staff, KDR, IT and of course the competitors, who battled hard but shook hands at the end. This time victory belonged to Golledge who won the prestigious West Midlands Relay Shield and the Track & Field competitions with Knight House winning the Macmillan Cancer Support Student – Staff Race. It was a fine way to round off this busy half term and a well-deserved break awaits our colleagues and students alike.

It has been a moving week as we marked a minute’s silence yesterday in respect for the victims of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack on Monday. We have been open in speaking to our students about how the news has affected them, but if you are anxious about doing so at home, you may find this information from the BBC helpful.

We welcome home our students from the China Exchange next Wednesday. To read more about their trip, please see here.

A moving Leavers’ assembly took place yesterday in the Sixth Form Centre and it was a fitting tribute to the maturity and diligence of this particular year group. They have been led admirably by Maximillian Kaberry, Victoria Regan and Francesca Llewellin, who have encapsulated all the qualities that make a Sexeian – all commented on the friendly nature and warm atmosphere of the school, the life skills they have learnt and the strong relationships they have built, which will last for many years to come. The Sixth Formers now immerse themselves in public exams after half term and we wish them well in their endeavours as they pursue coveted university places, gap years and internships come August. I thank them for the outstanding service they have given to the school – from music, art and drama productions, to a variety of sports teams and to the prefect body for setting the gold standard to the younger members of our community and keeping them on TRaK. Their skills in Car Pool Karaoke was also a revelation…

I wish you all a pleasant and peaceful half term break and look forward to welcoming you back into school on Monday 5th June (4th June for our returning boarders).

Monday, 22 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 19 May 2017

Summer exams started this week, with students taking part in breakfast and lunch revision clubs and The Sanctuary providing welcome relaxation. Our teachers can be seen poring over the papers in the break times, and the whole school is behind those are working so hard at this time.

Our extra-curricular activities provide welcome relief at these times and it was superb to hear our Sexey’s singing group perform so well at Roth Bar & Grill last weekend. Their fine voices certainly bode well for the whole school musical ‘Bugsy Malone’ in July. Tickets are already on sale in Reception; we do hope you can join us. Meanwhile, our sportsmen and women performed well in cricket, rounders, equestrian and tennis fixtures played this week against Ansford, Dauntsey’s School and Huish Episcopi Academy, and the athletics Track and Field Cup meet at Millfield on Wednesday saw wins in the relays and sprints – congratulations to everyone involved.

We also had a very successful Boarding Open Morning last weekend and again thank you to all colleagues and the community who go over and beyond to support us in our endeavours. It was an excellent opportunity to show our future students what they can achieve at Sexey’s, and to provide an update on all that we have been doing recently in Boarding. Feedback was extremely positive, and our existing parents may also be interested to read the latest updates to the Boarding and Academic Action Plans here and here respectively. As always, we welcome any questions or comments on these.

As I write, final preparations are being made for the China Exchange trip, which departs tomorrow to Beijing. We wish them the very best of journeys, a fruitful visit, and a safe return.  

祝你一个平静轻松的周 (I wish you a peaceful and relaxing weekend).

Monday, 15 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 12 May 2017

Whatever your political view, it is hard to be anything other than impressed by the fact that a person with drive and a vision for change could be elected French President only a year after starting his own political movement, En Marche. It is this level of passion with which we aim to enthuse our students and the coming week’s activities encourages me of our success. Continuing the political theme, we were pleased to welcome the Liberal Democrat prospective candidate for Somerton and Frome into school on Thursday to speak to our Sixth Form Government & Politics students on the democratic process. Engaging the next generation in the current political debate is important to us as a school and we encourage those Sixth Formers who are eligible to do so to register to vote in June.

The film festival this weekend at Hauser & Wirth includes Youth Cinema Foundation’s ‘Strange Magic’, written and directed by Sexey’s Sixth Former Megan O’Neil and involving several of our students. I would encourage you to get your complimentary ticket and support their enthusiasm and endeavour.

It is a season of school trips. This morning saw a group of our Year 8 Gifted and Talented students in the school car en route to The Salters’ Institute of Chemistry at the University of Bristol for a day’s competition with other schools in the South West, solving chemical challenges. More on this on our news section of the website shortly. Next weekend 15 students will be visiting our partner school Yueyang No.2 Middle School, China for over a week, working alongside Chinese students and visiting Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall of China and Ming Tombs among other sights. What a fantastic opportunity.

The summer sports season is in full swing with cricket, rounders and tennis matches played this week against Ansford, King Arthur’s, Millfield, Clayesmore, and Huish Episcopi Academy. Don’t forget the Sexey's School Sports dedicated site for more details of fixtures. Best of luck to students participating in the equestrian events this weekend and we look forward to welcoming you all at Sports Day on Friday 26th May, if not before.

We wish all our Y11 and 6th form the very best in their public exams which continue to gather pace next week.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 5 May 2017

Although a short week (though this is a long time in politics!), we have seen much activity in school as we returned from the first of our May bank holidays. GCSE Art and Spanish students have embarked on their exams and I commend all of our students for their thoughtfulness in keeping a respectful air for their peers who are mid-revision at this time. Next week our Key Stage 3 students will take their internal exams and we wish them all the very best of luck for them.

The Sports Department has been as busy as ever with cricket and rounders fixtures played against Holyrood Academy, Millfield School and The Gryphon this week. A special congratulations goes to Sixth Former Georgia Silcox who became Somerset Schools’ Senior Heptathlon Champion at the Somerset Schools’ Combined Events Championships on Monday. A tremendous achievement on all accounts.

Next weekend we see off our latest Duke of Edinburgh practitioners on their Bronze practice expedition to Cranborne Chase. We add our thanks to those flooding in from around the world in praise of Prince Philip as he announced yesterday that he is stepping back from public office this year, in particular for his inspirational work with the DofE award scheme. Thanks in large part to the team of teachers led by Mrs Wilkinson, who give up their time in support of the scheme, we are proud to be one of the largest providers in the South West. Students from Year 10 onwards are given the opportunity to participate in the scheme, which is widely recognised by colleges, universities and employers and has been popular with Sexey’s students for many years. Success in the award brings many challenges but also many rewards for participants in exchange for commitment, hard work and determination. To read our news story from the latest award ceremony for our successful students, please click the link here:  

On Saturday 13th May we also hold our Boarding Open Morning and thank all of our parents for spreading the word and encouraging any families in your network that might be interested in our school to register on the school website and join us at 10am in Macmillan House.

Yesterday’s local elections took place and I hope that our students will continue to keep abreast on what is happening in politics both here and around the world, especially with the French going to polls this Sunday.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 28 April 2017

As tensions rise on the political battlefield both here and across the Channel, we spoke at Sixth Form assembly this week about the recent French elections and how this will have an impact on the UK and Brexit. There is so much uncertainty that it is difficult to navigate politics currently and it's the next generation of leaders (our students) that will need to be equipped with the right tools in order to do so. Their thoughtful comments make me optimistic for the future.

Sticking with the Sixth Form, as a Gifted & Talented venture, our G&T and PE departments recently secured the opportunity for six of our talented Year 11 PE students to experience a Sports Psychology programme with Dr Barry Cripps, a registered Sport and Exercise Psychologist with notable clients such as The Met Office, The British Olympic Association, and the High Performance Unit at the University of Exeter. The aim of the programme was to help the students gain a better insight and understanding of their talents and to coach them in ways that would help them with their performance, including relaxation techniques, confidence, concentration, goal setting strategies and practising mental rehearsal. And speaking of goal setting, our Sixth Formers also arranged a school fundraiser for Dorothy House Hospice, raising important funds for this special charity, which cares for people of all ages, from all walks of life with life-limiting illnesses and is this year celebrating its 40th birthday.  The event, held in the sixth form games session, was a sports day style event with three-legged and sack races and a fancy dress obstacle course. Well done to all those involved.

As I type, final preparations are being made for the 5km Race for Life in support of Cancer Research on the Elm Field. Thank you to everyone who has joined us for this fantastic charitable event which has been organised by our Deputy Head Girl, Lucy Febrey. Just like the image of one marathon runner helping another in the final metres of that gruelling race, I hope we at school will continue to go out of our way to support those in need.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Headmaster's Weekly Notes - 21 April 2017

Welcome back to the start of the new summer term – a term traditionally when courses culminate in the taking of public exams, cricket, rounders and athletics form the major sports and the sun is supposed to shine – and unfortunately it isn’t. It’s good to be back at school and to get back into the swing of things after the Easter holidays and although the school is now in summer mode with regards uniform, the weather certainly doesn’t reflect that and it is forecast to get slightly colder. Please see below the school’s expectations with regards the summer dress code.

This weekend, thousands are donning their running shoes to take part in the London Marathon. Its Charity of the Year, Heads Together, aims to end the stigma around mental health and enable young people to talk freely about their issues and concerns. In school this week, we once again welcomed the Samaritans, who have been coming to talk to the whole school about ways in which our students can strengthen their emotional and mental wellbeing (this week they addressed Y10). They have also spent time with our Year 11s, providing them with tips and advice on dealing with examination and revision stress. Leaflets following those sessions are available in The Sanctuary or from Mrs Nurse.

Getting active is of course one very good way to improve mental health and I look forward to welcoming as many as possible to our own running event, the 5km Race for Life, at the Elm Field next Friday.  Meanwhile, our huge congratulations also go to the Year 8 Netball team who became County Champions after a gruelling final at Millfield yesterday – well done girls!

Staying on TRaK (Tolerance, Respect & Kindness) continues to be our drive this term with preparation for public examinations fully underway (the KS3 Summer exams take place early next month), and it is important that our students remain fully engaged and focussed. The pace and intensity has been relentless since we got back and I have been impressed with students’ work ethic, independence of thought and positive attitude in and around school, including the boarding houses, and I commend them for their sterling efforts.

With the PM calling a General Election on the 8th of June, which has caught many by surprise, the question of education funding still remains a hot topic of debate and I hope that the new Government, whatever colour it may be, puts education at the heart of its manifesto and will address this crucial area so that the futures of our children are protected and that schools up and down the country are not forced to take decisions that will ultimately harm the nature and ethos of what we are trying to do – provide our students with an all-round, holistic education that will give them the necessary skills to prepare them for the future.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 17 March 2017

Article 50, constitutional challenges between England and Scotland and school funding are dominating the news and the latter is of particular concern to us.  The National Funding Formula in its current format is going to see every school in England experience budget cuts before 2020 which will inevitably harm standards in schools up and down the country. Despite this, we continue trying to provide the best opportunities we can for your children and this week has been no exception.  I’d like to thank all of the parents and guardians who took the time to attend our forums on Wednesday and Friday last week.  They were challenging but ultimately productive sessions in which you raised some clear areas in which we could improve in our communication with you.  We have spent this week reflecting on the necessary actions to address the concerns that you voiced and as a result, we will be writing to you in due course with regards bullying, the use of Moodle and explaining the other specific actions that will be included in a summary of the sessions.  Thank you also for your expressions of support during this process – they are very much appreciated and we will continue our hard work to do them justice.  Fundraising was another topic of the forums and I will write to you separately on this matter in due course once the formula has been debated in the House of Commons next week – as it stands it looks like the formula may well be rejected, but we have seen things go the other way in the past…

Sporting fixtures aside in rugby, netball and equestrian where our sportsmen and women have excelled, we have had the opportunity to celebrate British Science Week during tutor time and in lessons this week. Our successful Duke of Edinburgh applicants collected their certificates for Bronze, Silver and Gold awards at the DoE ceremony at the Octagon in Yeovil this week, and our congratulations go once again to them for their endeavours including that of Mrs Wilkinson and her team.  Meanwhile, while continuing with our improvement plans in light of Ofsted, we have met with our Parents & Staff Association (if you are willing to help here please do get in touch) and been preparing for next week’s lectures which will both challenge and inspire – from the award winning film maker, Jo Ruxton who will be talking about ‘Plastic Oceans’ next Tuesday evening to our TEDEd team of Sixth Formers giving a series of wide-ranging lectures including topics such as existentialism, child mortality, literacy rates, sustainability and education on the Wednesday evening.  I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 10 March 2017

Our recent Academic Ofsted inspection unfortunately did not go well and the full report and response to it is on our website. We have an Academic Action Plan in place which we are working with colleagues and Governors on to address the shortcomings highlighted by the report. We are fully committed to rectifying those areas as well as continuing with our Boarding Action Plan. There are also many positives in the report and we should not lose sight of that - our students feel safe, are happy, well behaved, participate in a range of activities and enjoy coming into school. May I take this opportunity to thank you for the overwhelming support that you have given the school since receiving the report this week and for attending the Parents’ Forums - it speaks volumes about you and about our very caring and supportive school.

Despite the disappointing news, it’s business as usual here and I was impressed with the reaction of our students following the news of the report in assembly this week. They were considerate, articulate and passionate about their school and the way they conducted themselves for the Whole School Photo afterwards was indicative of the comments in the report.  We have learnt that four of our U6 students came in the top 30% of students in the U.K. who sat the prestigious and highly competitive International Chemistry Olympiad run by the Royal Society of Chemistry - an impressive achievement to say the least which we can all be proud of and there have been plenty of boarding activities too. With a number of sporting fixtures to exercise the mind and the body, auditions for next term’s Drama production of 'Bugsy Malone', rehearsals for this month’s Spring Concert in full flow, colleagues running the Bath Half Marathon this weekend in aid of the school’s partner charity, Macmillan Cancer Support and news of the proposed Sexey’s expedition to the Himalayas in July 2019 (more details to follow), the school carries on - a real strength of our community.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 3 March 2017

Despite the dreary and grey weather, the school has been awash in colour and bathed in a golden glow with everyone dressed in yellow to support ‘Big Yellow Friday’ in aid of the excellent work of the Children’s Liver Foundation, a charity close to school’s heart and my thanks to staff and students for all their help and in particular to Mr Dave Hill and his granddaughter Tilly (who is now a bonnie 3 year old), who took part in the fund-raising raffle at lunchtime today. It was lovely to see her and the community spirit displayed in full today by the whole school. It has certainly been a busy week!  Well done to the Y10s for keeping their cool as they sat their trial exams and I congratulate them on how well they have conducted themselves during this important week – it will prepare them for the future and I hope they have faced up to the challenge and that they have learnt a little more about themselves. The Sports department has played a number of netball, hockey and football fixtures this week (the 1st XI claimed a victory against Yeovil FC’s Academy side) as well as Rugby 7s competitions with the 1st VII last weekend losing in the plate Semi Final at Canford. Today the U13s and U14s are at the Perins School’s 7s tournament in Southampton and we wish them well in their endeavours.  Congratulations also to our Karate team who last weekend competed at the English Karate Federation Tournament in Birmingham and won three trophies for performance and fighting. The Y11 Oxford University trip was a success and we welcome back this evening our Y12 Geographers who have been carrying out their field work in Devon – it’s safe to say that the weather hasn’t been kind to them either. Where has this week gone?

I look forward to seeing you at the PSA Spring Dinner and Dance tomorrow evening where we will continue to celebrate our strong and caring community.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 24 February 2017

Half term came and went in a flash, but the foul weather seems to be still here! With Storm Doris ravaging most of the United Kingdom yesterday, our sportsmen and women were also creating a storm on the games fields against the likes of King’s Arthur’s, All Hallows’, Sandroyd, The Blue School and Bruton School for Girls. Well done too to our Year 7 footballers Ben George, Charlie Hawkins and Morris Moore who – we have just learnt - have made the final round of the SW District trials. Have we really only been back a week? We also saw plenty of inspiring performances by our musician at Acoustic Night this week which saw members of the String Group, Perla Walker, Hugo Peel, Lily Nuttall-Redman, Annabel Thrippleton, Cecily Minting et al take to the microphone and belt out such classics as the Eagles’ ‘Hotel California’ and Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’. They played to a packed and appreciative audience and I am delighted that so many of our students (and staff) are engaged in music at the school – an essential part of the all-round, holistic education we endeavour to provide all our students. During Lower School assembly, we reminded our students to stay on TRaK – the Christian values of tolerance, respect and kindness which underpin everything we do here at Sexey’s and forms an integral part of our identity and community. They are clearly displayed in the school’s reception and in all that we do –  please reinforce these values at every opportunity; they are important.  And the Assistant Head (Pastoral), Mr Clackson gave a thought-provoking talk on the effects of bullying, which we take very seriously here at Sexey’s and I hope that our students will continue to be model citizens both in and out of school in all that they do and reflect our core values.

And as the Y10s get ready for their Trial exams next week, our Equestrian team competes in the NSEA Inter-Schools’ Show Jumping Competition at West Wilts on Saturday, our 1st VII rugby team compete at the prestigious Canford VIIs rugby tournament on Sunday, our Y11 geographers prepare to head off to Devon on their field work studies, some of our Y11s visiting Exeter College, Oxford, I try to find my black tie for next week’s PSA Spring Dinner & Dance (only a few tickets left so do get yours quickly!), and our charity fund raising event for the Children's Liver Disease Foundation ‘Big Yellow Friday’, I do wonder where February and the half term holiday went. We seem to be cooking up our own storm here.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 10 February 2017

Our Jacobean founder, Hugh Sexey would have been proud of this week’s School Production of Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ (written between 1604 and 1606), which was performed with such confidence and aplomb by our students. The power and raw emotion from the actors set the tone for the stunning performance and the lead, played by Jasmin Dennis, has been compared to Glenda Jackson’s take on the role in the West End. High praise indeed. The cast and crew have again produced a play which has further raised the bar for future productions - expectations will be high and the challenge even greater. From front of house to backstage, from the music to make up - everybody has an important part to play and they do it so well; a self-less and caring community wanting the best for each other. Setting high standards and challenging our students to do things differently is what we strive to do and ‘King Lear’ was no exception. The upcoming review in ‘What’s on Somerset’ (which I encourage you to read) sums it up well and reflects the commitment and passion our students and staff have for our special school. Drama continues to excel at Sexey’s and with Trinity Guildhall examinations on offer to our Sexeians and our partnership with the Youth Cinema Foundation, I am pleased to see Drama both at school and in the community, going from strength to strength. The summer production will be our interpretation of the hit musical ‘Bugsy Malone’ which should be a real treat and I’ve been asked to sit in the front row…

Speaking of community, a group of young Sexeians went to Sexey's Hospital on Monday to meet with the current Master, Canon Paul Jenkins, who gave them a tour of Sexey's Hospital, met with the residents and then presented us with a new school flag to continue our strong and healthy relationship, something our founder would be very proud of. We thank Canon Jenkins for his tireless support of the school and wish him well as he retires next month. His legacy will last for many years to come, both in school and in our community.
And so to half term – while the students are enjoying an early start to a well-deserved break, colleagues from Sexey's and schools from all over Somerset have come together today as a learning community to share best practice and to learn from one another in what works best in the classroom - over 1000 teachers in over 40 schools have been working closely together for the benefit of the next generation. Community on an even bigger scale and a privilege to be a part of.

The RBS Six Nations Rugby continues this weekend, and I will be watching the game tomorrow with our local community - all sorts of communities coming together for a variety of reasons on a local, national and international level; it can only be a good thing. I wish you all a pleasant and peaceful half term.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 3 February 2017

Last Friday saw the PSA put on a fabulous show when we had a great turnout for the PSA Annual Quiz in the Main Hall. The whole event was expertly compered by our very own Mr Keith Partridge and a team called ‘The B Team’ successfully won back the title! The atmosphere was competitive and at times you could hear a pin drop as the cogs were whirring incessantly; the food was delicious and there was plenty of fine cheese too courtesy of Barber’s. I cannot thank the PSA enough for all their hard work and the time they give up to organise such excellent events (the Spring Ball is next month) which raises important funds for our school - benefiting our students hugely in the long term. The Quiz will no doubt be back again next year, so get those thinking caps on and start revising!

It’s now only a week before the end of what has been a truly busy and eventful half term. Next week, our thespians tread the boards in Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ and I urge you all to come along and support this fine cast who have been rehearsing ‘come what may’ (that is in fact a quote from the bard himself). The U16 Girls' netball team triumphed in the Somerset Netball Competition at Westfield at the beginning of the week by winning all 5 of their matches convincingly and the U15 Girls’ Rugby training at Castle Cary RFC was a truly muddy affair and quite timely with the 6 Nations Rugby kicking off this weekend. The U13 Boys' Hockey at Holyrood also proved popular this week and we hope that boys' hockey gains momentum here at the school. 

During Lower School assembly we were treated to a scintillating performance of the Stranglers’ ‘Hanging Around’, by the 'Rock Scholars' who had everyone in awe. They will be next performing at Acoustic Night later this term, so do please come along and support them as well as all of our musicians. And finally we had the school Chaplain, Mr Richard Kelley, speak to the students about the importance of listening to one another and respecting each other’s opinion  – something we, politicians and world leaders can learn to do from time to time.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 27 January 2017

The January Blues should hopefully be over soon, but there has been a couple of nasty bugs doing the rounds. As a result staff absence has been particularly high at the moment, with many students also being unwell. The school is doing its utmost to ensure a subject-specialised teacher is covering teacher absence but, as some of the notifications from staff are being received by the school last-minute, this isn’t always possible. In these instances, lessons are covered by other members of teaching staff, and even when staff are unwell, they try hard to ensure work is set for their classes and that the lesson time is used productively (I have enjoyed teaching ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to Y9 and ‘Percentages’ to Y8 this week). We ask that you please bear with us whilst we are managing this challenge and also that you do not send your child to school if they are unwell. If your child is a boarder and they fall ill, it would be very much appreciated if you could arrange to collect them as soon as possible because the strain on the Health Centre is apparent. Sister Rosemary has had a baptism of fire this week and I thank her and other colleagues who have stepped in to support and I hope that over the exeat, staff and students will have the time to recuperate and will be back in school on Monday fighting fit.

My congratulations to the Y11 students who sat their Core Exams this week and conducted themselves with great maturity – I hope they found them challenging and rewarding and will learn from any mistakes they may have made. The results of these exams will be out in due course. It was refreshing too this week to hear the newly elected MYP for South Somerset, our very own Lower Sixth Former Katie Leeming speak at assembly about her hopes and aspirations as she embarks on her political career where she will debate issues in Parliament such as education, health, policing and Brexit, amongst others in this uncertain political world. I just hope that the next generation of leaders learn from the past, hold on to our cherished values and pave the way for a brighter future. Choose Education - which will be put to the test at tonight's PSA Quiz.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Head Master's Weekly Notes - 13 January 2017

Welcome back to the start of a new Lent term and although the weather was due to turn this week, its ‘another day of Sun’ here at Sexey’s (the ‘Sun’ reference will become apparent in the days to come!), albeit there is quite a nip in the air. I trust that you all had a restful holiday (seems like such a long time ago) and are now settled into the rhythms and routines of the New Year. Over the festive period, the School was delighted to learn that Sixth Former Katherine Leeming was appointed to the UK Youth Parliament representing South Somerset after a hard fought campaign – a tremendous achievement and we wish her well as she speaks for the youth of today on issues such as education, the health service, Brexit and the current political turmoil we are experiencing. The Sexey’s Ski Trip to Kitzbuhel last term went well too and the skiers had a great time with many improving their skiing (and language) skills – preparations are already underway for next December’s trip. Do watch out for further details as I am sure places will be snapped up very quickly indeed.

The Lent term is packed (I wouldn’t have it any other way!) with plenty of activities in and around school – from sport, drama, music, art, charity fund raising and PSA events. Well done to the 6th form who sat their Trial Exams this week (A-level Art and Photography exams continue next week) in preparation for public exams in the summer; university offers are also coming in thick and fast too. The drama department is busy rehearsing for Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ which takes place next month – do please come along and support the students’ efforts. And the Spring Concert will also be taking place this term – if you missed the Christmas Concert last term, you had better get your ticket for this one as I expect it will be standing room only…again! For a list of this season’s sporting fixtures (Football, Netball and Rugby 7s) please do check the website which is easily accessed through the school’s website. Fixtures start in earnest next week against the likes of Sherborne, Beechen Cliff, BSfG and Warminster with the U18 Badminton Team play in the County Finals on Monday - if you can come down for the Home matches it would be wonderful to see you cheering on from the side lines.

The new term is already in full swing and it proves to be a very exciting and busy one – I look forward to seeing many of you at the numerous events that will be happening at School over the coming weeks and months (the much anticipated PSA Quiz is next Friday – more details below). Yesterday, a Year 7 pupil came and sat with a colleague and I at lunch and spoke about their holiday and their future aspirations. I was so impressed with how polite and articulate they were – brimming with excitement about school and the opportunities it offers; it was heartening to see how our students are developing, both in character and confidence and I hope that what we do, day in and day out, makes a difference. Thank you in advance for your continued support and loyalty and I wish you a very successful and prosperous 2017 – let’s hope for more days of Sun!